Objectives: We sought to determine whether the primary tumor burden in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is lower in tumors positive for human papillomavirus (HPV) or in tumors with a smoking- or alcohol-related cause. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed medical records of patients at our institution who had squamous cell carcinoma of the palatine tonsils, base of tongue, soft palate, or pharynx from 1995 through 2006. The patients underwent primary surgical therapy. The main outcome measures were the HPV status of tumors and nodes and the survival rates (categorized by HPV status). Results: Of 102 treated patients, 48 (47.1%) had HPV-positive carcinomas. Primary tumor size was not significantly different between HPV-positive and HPV-negative tumors (median, 2.5 versus 2.0 cm; p = 0.43.). Patients with HPV had a higher prevalence of neck nodal metastases (35% vesus 11%; p = 0.003) and high-grade lesions (83% versus 64%; p = 0.03). Conclusions: Primary tumor burden was not associated with HPV status. Patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas had a higher prevalence of neck nodal metastases and high-grade lesions.
- Base of tongue
- Human papillomavirus
- Oropharyngeal carcinoma tonsil
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